Magpies fly high despite racism row
Laine Clark
11:03 AEST Sat Jun 1 2013

Surely, it couldn't get any worse than the week in hell Collingwood endured before their 49-point AFL thrashing of the Brisbane Lions?

Magpies coach Nathan Buckley was not so sure.

"Don't worry mate, something will pop up," he said with a wry grin.

"Something always pops up."

But Buckley added: "Potentially not of the magnitude of this week though."

Certainly it will take some doing to upstage Magpies president Eddie McGuire's "King Kong" clanger.

Still, Buckley did not believe his indigenous stars Harry O'Brien and Andrew Krakouer were ever a chance of pulling out from the Friday night Gabba clash in the fallout over the latest racist row.

Then again, the Magpies coach admitted it was difficult to gauge how badly the off-field controversy had taken its toll on his players.

"It's hard to say. There was a lot of discussion about things other than footy (before the match)," Buckley said.

"I thought we did a good job as an inner sanctum to redirect our energies back to what we were in control of.

"All credit to Harry and Andrew in that regard and their teammates for supporting them."

If the fallout over their club boss' "slip of the tongue" was not enough, Collingwood lost forward Travis Cloke ahead of the opening bounce due to a virus.

"We thought between his third and fourth spews last night that he was not going to get there," Buckley explained.

But even the most passionate Magpies fan would have been surprised by what happened next.

The match was essentially over when Collingwood led by 45 at halftime as they went on to dominate disposals (432-294), clearances (40-31) and contested possessions (143-124).

Usual suspects Dane Swan (36 touches, two goals) and Scott Pendlebury (28 disposals) impressed but O'Brien also stood tall despite an emotional week with 24 telling touches.

Collingwood (6-4 record) kept in touch with the top eight with the gutsy win.

However, Buckley was unhappy his side could not keep the foot on the throat of a Lions side without the likes of Jonathan Brown, Daniel Merrett (suspended), Tom Rockliff (quad) and Matthew Leuenberger (thumb).

Asked if his side had addressed workrate concerns raised after last round's 47-point loss to Sydney, Buckley said: "I still think the jury is out.

"I have really high expectations of this team.

"I thought we reached them in the first half but fell away in the second.

"If that comes down to work rate or mental application to stay the course for four quarters then we will continue to look at that, pick the players who can and omit the players who can't.

"We feel we are long way away from where we want to be to beat the best sides."

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